In November 2009 i travelled for one month through Vietnam. Starting - and finishing point was the City of Ho Chi Minh ( also known as Saigon ) in the south of Vietnam. From there i travelled up north to Hanoi and back again. All in all i just spent few days with searching for spiders but every day was a good experience.
After arrival and a short trip to the Mekong Delta i travelled west to the town of Dalat in the mountains with a relatively cool climate. The landscape is dominated by pinewood and reminds of forests in northern Europe.
Landscape around Dalat:
Without knowing if there are tarantulas in this area i was able to locate a typical burrow of an Ornithoctoniae in the mountains around Dalat. It was at the roadside and because of the silk around the entrance easy to spot.
The burrow is just in the middle of the picture:
I was lucky that there was also an inhabitant but it was not possible to bait the spiders so i had to dig. Some curious workers from the nearby forest provided me with some help after i explained what i was looking for.
I found an Ornithoctoniae spp. which was unknown to me . The morphology and the white hairs around the chelizera reminded me of Haplopelma schmidti but this species is described from the far north of Vietnam being hundreds of km away. This animal seemed not to be adult with a bodylength of just about 4 cm . Unfortunately i was not able to locate more spiders in the vicinity.
After a visit in the towns of Nha Trang and Hoi An without looking for spiders i went up north to Hue which is close to the Bach Ma National Park. I was lucky to have good weather conditions because normally in Bach Ma November is the wettest month ( the north and south of Vietnam have dry season at the same time ). Some time ago a very colourful Ornithoctoniae appeared in the pet trade coming from the Bach Ma National Park with the name Haplopelma sp. " Bach Ma " so that my aim was to find them in their natural environment.
Entrance to the Bach Ma NP:
The spiders were easy to find and even at daytime it was possible to bait them with a blade of gras so i was able to take good pictures.
It was interesting that they only lived in horizontal burrows horizontal within hillsides.
Different Haplopelma sp. " Bach Ma " at the entrance of their burrows:
Also at daytime some spiders sat outside to wait fro prey:
These spiders were very defensive:
Video of a big female hitting a blade of gras:
In my opinion these spiders belong to the most beautiful asian species due to their colouration
Sometimes i was necessary to climb the hillsides to see the burrows. Here is one on the left side of me:
Haplopelma sp. " Bach Ma " trying to catch some gras....
I hope that these spiders will not be removed by illegal collecting. Their environment is quite safe from habitat destruction due to the National Park.
After the visit to Bach Ma i travelled further north to Nhin Bin. The surrounding is famous for its lime stone formations. This area was rather cold and humid ( about 10-15 degrees ) and i didn`t expect to find any Theraphosidae. But surprinsingly i found a small but nice Theraphosid species. They also lived in horizontal burrows surrounded by a lot of silk. Also the burrows had multiple exits.
Landscape near Nhin Bin:
Habitat of this unknown Theraphosidae sp.
Locality with many burrows:
unknown Theraphosidae sp.
After this surprising discovery i visited Hanoi and Halong Bay and took a plane to the south of Vietnam to spend the last days near the south coast. Also here i found a very nice tarantula without expecting it. It was Chilobrachys dycolus which also lived within very deep ( > 1 meter ) horizontal burrows. But i found also some specimen in burrows under tree roots. These spiders were very shy and it was difficult to take good pictures.
Habitat Chilobrachys dyscolus and burrow:
Chilobrachys dyscolus at the entrance of its burrow:
The burrows within embankments were more than one meter deep
Some specimen had a striking blue colouration:
Typical for Chilobrachys spp. is their defensive behaviour if they feel threatened: